Harnessing the power of cyclists

Honda asked PR agency Brazil to maximise regional awareness of its sponsorship of the 2010 Tour of Britain, the UK’s most prestigious professional cycling race. Taking place over eight days, with each day’s racing held in a different area of the UK, Honda wanted to involve its nationwide dealer network in order to increase visitors to the dealerships and therefore build business. Locations visited by the tour included Blackpool, Rochdale, Swansea, Glastonbury and London during September 2010.

Strategy

The aim was to support the race in two ways. First, by encouraging local Honda dealerships to support the nearest stage of the race by attending and championing the local cycling initiative through key local titles, as well as setting up locally targeted competitions in each region. As part of the media assault, each dealership involved was given a ‘guide to PR’, in order to encourage each dealer to contact the media themselves.

Second, Brazil created unique cycling experiences for bloggers and journalists by setting up places in the marshal cars, deemed to be the best way to watch a cycling race. After each event, post-event press releases were distributed to local media, along with photos of the dealers at the start and finish line taken by photographer Michelle Rudd.

Results

PR coverage around the events successfully name-checking Honda, as well as the regional dealerships, appeared in every region of the tour. Coverage was in key regional titles such as the Blackpool Gazette and Manchester Evening News.

Competitions were set up with regional online news channels including thisissomerset.co.uk and thisisstaffordshire.co.uk as well as broadcasters in every region, resulting in an AVE of over £15,000.

Brazil also placed the car marshal competition on the Prendas website, one of the largest cycling retailers in the UK, and its subsidiaries, where it was seen by a targeted audience of 30,000 serious cyclists, publicity that was worth over £5,000.

Tom Fordyce, a BBC Online blogger, was invited to share the car marshal experience. He wrote extensively about this in his blog, name-checking Honda.  It was calculated that the return on investment was eightfold, with local Honda dealerships experiencing an uplift in footfall, while new car enquires typically rose by a third.

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